Birkenstock Footbed FAQ

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Chilly temperatures seem to be well behind us (though you never know here in Indiana!), and we're enjoying the chance to don some sandals and warm our toes in the spring sunshine. There are no more iconic sandals than Birkenstocks, and fans will be sporting these cozy shoes until fall creeps in. No one can argue with the evergreen popularity of Birkenstock's flagship styles like the Birkenstock Arizona sandal, the Birkenstock Gizeh sandal, or the Birkenstock Boston clog. These shoes are trendy, to be sure, but much of their enduring appeal lies in their luxurious comfort.

How much do you know about Birkenstock footbeds? Many of our customers love the way Birkenstock footbeds feel on their feet, but they don't know what it is that makes those footbeds so amazingly comfortable. Others aren't sure whether the Original Footbed or Soft Footbed is right for them, or whether they need the "narrow" or "regular" width. Don't let confusion hold you back from the Birkenstock experience! Here are the answers to our customers' most frequent questions, so you can confidently choose the Birkenstock shoe that's right for you.


WHY ARE BIRKENSTOCK FOOTBEDS SO COMFORTABLE?

We've sung the praises of cork footbeds on the blog before, but here's a recap: Cork is uniquely suited as a footbed material because of the way it molds to your foot over time. This means that once you've worn your Birkenstock shoes for a while, the footbed will actually hug the unique contours of your foot, giving you a truly personalized fit. Cork footbeds provide healthy walking support, which encourages optimal weight distribution and improves posture and balance. Cork is also shock-absorbent and helps reduce stress on your joints. Lightweight, flexible, and oh-so-cozy, cork footbeds will make your feet happy, guaranteed.


Birkenstock Original Footbed: 1) roomy toe box, 2) toe bar for grip, 3) contoured arch support, 4) deep heel cup, 5) EVA sole, 6) strengthening jute layer, 7) cork and natural latex, 8) suede footbed liner.


Some of our other great brands, like Naot and Finn Comfort, also offer shoes with cork footbeds. So what makes Birkenstock footbeds unique? Layer upon layer of premium materials! The Original Footbed starts, of course, with the durable and shock-absorbent EVA sole. Above that, a layer of jute adds strength. Next comes the supportive footbed base of cork and natural latex. Another layer of jute wicks away moisture to keep the foot cozy and dry, and finally, a soft suede* liner covers it all. In the Soft Footbed, there's an extra layer of foam cushioning just below the liner.

The feeling of cork footbeds has been compared to sinking your feet into wet sand. Birkenstock takes that idea even further by allowing room for your foot's natural spread. Birkenstock footbeds' carefully sculpted contours, including the arch support, deep heel cup, and toe bar, are designed to encourage natural motion and spread, so it really does feel like you're walking barefoot along the beach with every step!

*Prefer not to wear or use animal products? Shop the Birkenstock Vegan line! Or, learn more about Birkenstock Vegan shoes.


WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE BIRKENSTOCK ORIGINAL FOOTBED AND BIRKENSTOCK SOFT FOOTBED?

Birkenstock Soft Footbed: 1) suede liner, 2) cushioning foam, 3) upper jute layer, 4) cork and natural latex, 5) lower jute layer, 6) EVA sole.


As we mentioned above, the main difference between the Original Footbed and the Soft Footbed is that the Soft Footbed has foam cushioning sandwiched between the liner and the top layer of jute. This latex foam softens your step with millions of tiny air bubbles. If you have sensitive feet or cannot tolerate the initial firmness of the Original Footbed, the Soft Footbed is for you! Some customers have found that the Original Footbed offers the best arch support, but the Soft Footbed is more comfortable right out of the box. Just note that the extra layer of foam may make your Soft Footbed Birkenstocks feel a bit more snug than those with the Original Footbed.


DO I NEED TO "BREAK IN" MY BIRKENSTOCKS?

Birkenstock Gizeh & Birkenstock Arizona

You should expect a break-in period with a new pair of Birkenstocks, especially if you choose the Original Footbed. While Birkenstock sandals and shoes may seem a bit firm initially, that's because the cork footbed needs time and wear in order to conform to your foot. After you've worn them for a while, they'll still offer the support you need, but they won't feel so stiff.

Keep this in mind when you purchase your Birkenstock shoes. If you're planning to take them on vacation or wear them to an all-day event, make sure to give yourself time to break them in beforehand. You can start by holding your Birkenstocks by the toe and the heel and bending them with your hands a few times. Then, wear your Birkenstocks for a few hours at a time over several days. They should soon begin to hug your feet with the custom Birkenstock comfort that fans love!


SHOULD I WEAR BIRKENSTOCKS IN NARROW OR REGULAR WIDTH?

Birkenstock's widths are a source of confusion for many customers. Why does Birkenstock not offer a "wide" width, and how can you know whether narrow or regular is right for you? According to Birkenstock's website, their narrow width corresponds to width sizes A-B (B is standard width) for women and B-C for men, while the regular width is a women's C-D and a men's D-EE (D is standard width). Birkenstock shoes are naturally a bit wider than most; this is because they are made to accommodate your foot's natural spread. So even if you usually wear a wide shoe, you'll likely find that a regular-width Birkenstock works for you!

One of the symbols at the left can be found on every Birkenstock shoe's footbed, so you can easily tell whether it's narrow or a regular width. 


The very BEST way to figure out what size and width of Birkenstock shoe is best for you is to be fitted by a professional, like the friendly staff at Englin's Fine Footwear! They have the knowledge and experience to guide you toward the right fit. If that's not possible, use this method: Completely unfasten all the straps on your shoe and step into it, then fasten the straps around your foot in such a way that they are comfortable and allow your foot some freedom of movement.


Birkenstock Arizona for Men and Women

WHICH BIRKENSTOCKS ARE UNISEX?

Many Birkenstock sandals and clogs are made for anyone to wear! On our site, unisex Birkenstock shoes will show the European sizes as well as the American conversions for men and for women. (For example, a European size 40 is a women's 9-9.5 and a men's 7-7.5 in American sizing.) They will also not include a gender in the product name. Some popular unisex Birkenstocks are the Birkenstock Arizona sandal, the Birkenstock Boston clog, and the Birkenstock Milano sandal (shown below). Women's styles include the Birkenstock Gizeh, the Birkenstock Mayari, the  Birkenstock Florida Soft Footbed, and the Birkenstock Madrid, which are all sandals.


UNIQUE BIRKENSTOCK STYLES

Now that you know everything you need to know about Birkenstocks, maybe it's time to give them a try! Most people picture the iconic Arizona when they think about Birkenstocks, but here are a few of the lesser-known yet super stylish Birkenstock options.


Birkenstock Women's Mayari

Birkenstock Women's Mayari in Black Oiled Leather   Birkenstock Women's Mayari in Golden Brown Birko-Flor   Birkenstock Women's Mayari in Stone Birkibuc

Birkenstock Women's Mayari in Black Oiled LeatherGolden Brown Birko-Flor, and Stone Birkibuc. Also available in Antique Lace Birko-FlorHabana Oiled LeatherSilver Birko-Flor, and more.


The Birkenstock Mayari sandal has become one of our bestsellers from this brand. With its sleek, strappy design, the women's Mayari offers a fashionable alternative to Birkenstock's unisex styles. The Mayari is available in three different upper materials: leather, Birko-Flor, and Birkibuc. Birko-Flor is a soft, leather-like fabric with a smooth finish, while Birkibuc is made from felt fibers and has a textured surface similar to nubuck leather. The Birkenstock Mayari is available in a wide range of colors to match all your favorite outfits! The Mayari sports the Original Birkenstock footbed.


Birkenstock Women's Madrid

Birkenstock Women's Madrid in Black Birko-Flor  Birkenstock Women's Madrid in Magic Galaxy White Birko-Flor  Birkenstock Madrid EVA in Yellow EVA

Left and Center: Birkenstock Women's Madrid in Black Birko-Flor and Magic Galaxy White Birko-Flor. Also available in Bright White Patent Birko-FlorSilver Birko-Flor, and more

Right: Birkenstock Women's Madrid EVA in Yellow EVA. Also available in Green EVANavy EVA, and more.


With just one buckled strap, the Birkenstock Madrid is the simplest Birkenstock slide there is. The upper of the Madrid is made of Birko-Flor, so it's smooth and shiny, like leather. The Madrid is great for sliding into when you're headed out the door, or even for wearing around the house like slippers! We also offer the Birkenstock Madrid EVA, which is an all-EVA version of the Madrid that makes a great companion to your other Birkenstock favorites. Because it's made entirely of EVA, the Madrid EVA is extremely durable and washable, and it makes a great beach, pool, or locker room shoe. When you're going to be in or around water, switch out the Madrid EVA for your usual Birkenstock sandals, then change back when you're all dry! Whichever Madrid you sport, you'll love the convenience and subtle stylishness of this understated slide sandal.


Birkenstock Milano

Birkenstock Milano in Habana Oiled Leather  Birkenstock Milano Soft Footbed in Black Amalfi Leather  

Left: Birkenstock Milano in Habana Oiled Leather. // Center and Right: Birkenstock Milano Soft Footbed in Black Amalfi Leather and Brown Amalfi Leather.


As we mentioned above, the Birkenstock Milano strongly resembles the Arizona, but it has an added adjustable backstrap for extra security. While the Arizona's adjustable fit and footbed shape help it easily stay on your foot, you may prefer the Milano's backstrap for 100% dependability. Also like the Arizona, the Milano is a unisex style, so anyone can enjoy its comfort. The upper of smooth, supple leather lends the Birkenstock Milano a timeless tastefulness. The Milano is even available with either the Original or the Soft Footbed, so you can choose the shoe that feels best on your foot!


Congratulations, you're now a Birkenstock expert! Do you have any questions about Birkenstocks that we missed? Shoot us an email at customerservice@englinsfinefootwear.com, or stop by one of our retail stores for advice from our expert staff!

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